Amazing Star winning under Zac Purton. Photo: HKJC
Happy Valley specialist Amazing Star (NZ) (Darci Brahma) is shooting for his fifth win at the city circuit this season when he faces off against talented rivals in the Class 2 Ho Chung River Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday.
The Jimmy Ting trainee has relished racing around the Valley’s tight turns and has enjoyed a rapid rise, with four wins from five starts this season having doubled his rating to a career-high mark of 100.
A win on Wednesday would put the New Zealand-bred gelding in line for a tilt at Group races next term but three-time champion jockey Zac Purton is taking it one step at a time.
“I think he’s starting to reach his ceiling but he’s got a liking for Happy Valley and if he can break cleanly to have himself right up there, then hopefully he can continue on with what he’s been doing,” the Australian said.
The field of 12 features nine horses who have won this term for combined for 21 wins this season alone.
Amazing Star’s most recent win came in mid-March and he has since trailed once, to the satisfaction of both Ting and Purton.
“After his run in March there were no suitable races for him, so that’s why I gave him a rest, and also because the last two races he had were too close together. His recent trial was good,” Ting said.
Purton added: “He felt fine, he always trials well – it was a nice piece of work.”
A noted front-runner, the five-year-old will break from gate six with top-weight of 133lb on his back.
“He’s a little bit scared, that’s why he needs his space or to come from the outside,” Ting said.
“After this race we will see what we do next with him, we will see the form and the health of the horse and if the form is not so good then I may give him a rest until next season.”
With only one Group race at Happy Valley and over an unsuitable trip for Amazing Star, his continued ratings rise could force Ting’s hand with a switch to Sha Tin.
“It’s hard to know how he is going to handle Sha Tin with the longer straight,” Purton said. “With the speed he has, if he can use that and get nice and handy and give a kick off the corner, Happy Valley obviously really suits him but a longer straight at Sha Tin with more pressure, it’s a completely different beast. He’s going to have to learn to adapt if he is to compete at Group level.”